The fungi area at Coed has been in need of a bit of revamp, and so I’ve set to work on creating a plan for making a large amount of spawn for this years growing. Some of this will be used in bed and log culture outside in the forest garden, and some of it will be for indoor cultivation in bags.
For both of these purposes it’s necessary for me to be able to create spawn quickly and efficiently, which requires stable temperatures at the very least. Not something that’s readily available at Coed Hills!
So after much head scratching as to where I could find a space to do spawn runs (without applying electricity), it turns out that the boiler room, in between 2 large insulated water containers, holds a pretty acceptable 20°c.
I’ve used straw as a substrate and two varieties of oyster mushroom (Pleurotus ostreatus and P. eryngii) as these are quick to colonise and test the growing conditions. Both successfully completed their spawn runs in 16 days, which is brilliant considering the lack of any extra equipment.
I’ve decided to try out fruiting areas with some of the bags and expand the rest. The fruiting bags have been put in 2 different places, one in a shaded corner of the greenhouse, and one inside an open barn. I’ll report back soon on the conditions and success of these.
So the next stage was to expand the mycelium from some of the bags onto new substrate. Clean, fresh straw only needs to be pasteurised at 70c for 30-45 minutes. I’ve been doing this in a big steel cooking pan on the hob of a large cooker (which I broke the hob cover on, so be careful!). Ideally I’d have an outdoor catering gas ring to do this on. Food grade barrels make excellent cooking pots for straw and can usually be picked up from industrial food processors.
Once our straw was cooked, we needed to get it out of the pan of water onto a clean and bleached work surface, and spread it out to cool, making sure that we’d washed our hands with alcohol gel. As we were making a large amount of straw we kept the water in the pan for the next round. Straw cools really quickly but is really hot when it comes out of the pan, so using gloves is a good idea.
Making sure the straw had cooled and keeping our hands clean (using more alcohol wash), we opened the spawn bags and broke it up into pieces. It the case of the king oyster this was then mixed into straw at a rate of 1:10 in a long trough, to test it out for bed making. With the blue oysters the spawn was mixed at a lower rate 1:20 for testing bag culture inside.
All of the newly inoculated bags and containers have now been put back into the boiler cupboard, they are looking good so far, the spawn has made good progress onto the new substrate. So fingers crossed will be ready in 16 days!